Good news came in late last week when Kirkus released its review of the second edition of Eolyn. The review credited Eolyn with a “dreamlike, fairy-tale ambiance,” “immersive political machinations,” and “grand battles”. Interestingly, they weren’t too happy with the transition between these elements, but that’s okay. Overall, the story got a stamp of approval thanks to its “strong heroine” and “weighty themes.” I was pretty stoked. Read the entire review on Kirkus if you’d like to know more.
This is Eolyn’s second proper editorial review, the other having come from Publishers Weekly, back when we released the first edition in 2011. Here’s part of what they said:
“Though Eolyn becomes the hope of a rebellion, she never has to carry the whole weight of the story; Akmael, the ‘witch’ Ghemena, and other characters develop many intriguing facets. Gastreich allows her heroes to have flaws – including moments of cowardice – and some victories bring new sorrows. Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy, with a romantic thread.”
I thought it interesting that while both reviewers recognized certain hallmarks of the story – namely, political machinations and grand battle scenes – Publishers Weekly seemed pretty psyched about those aspects of the novel, while Kirkus not so much.
It’s certainly true that the first book of The Silver Web undergoes a change in tone midway through, when Eolyn abandons the South Woods and returns to her people. The South Woods is intended to be a place of childhood fantasy, magic, and fairy tales. As Eolyn grows up and moves into the larger world, part of that magic is inevitably left behind, even eroded under a cruder reality of power games, betrayal, and intrigue. This transition was deliberate on my part; whether or not I pulled it off well will, of course, be the decision of every reader.
I do believe there’s a part of childhood magic that stays alive in our hearts, no matter how far we stray from the fantasies of our youth. Throughout The Silver Web trilogy, the South Woods symbolizes this magic. No matter how far Eolyn and her cohorts stray from the forest, it remains an enduring foundation of love and friendship, a refuge to go back to when the burdens of the world become to great.
That at least one reviewer regretted Eolyn leaving the South Woods behind is, in my mind, a reflection of the very powerful role the forest has in this story, almost as a character in its own right. I count that as a success, even if it occasionally causes some complaint.
Of course, the final verdict on this and other aspects of the novel will soon be in the hands of all readers, when the second edition is released this Thursday, March 31st. Interested in drawing your own conclusions about Eolyn’s “strong female protagonist” and “weighty themes”? Awesome! Eolyn is available for pre-order now. I look forward to hearing what you think!